As you know, I unfortunately am stuck in development hell, which in this case is a lot to do with not a lot of time. Additionally, I have no idea what my time requirements will be, nor how consistent they will be, during the school year. And I have to worry about finding a job.
***This is a rant. This is probably my last opportunity for the near future to discuss these kinds of things, so I'm putting out my own thoughts as they come to me so you all can try to understand***
So, as I said I would do, I took the opportunity after the first release to take a step back and breathe again. During this time I just kind of looked around what I set out to do, and what almost two years later, have gotten a good amount started. I started with a loose design document two years ago and with no modding experience at all. What have I learned since? I now have moderate knowledge of the block and tile entity system for minecraft, and not much else, to be completely honest. I don't know how to make a custom in-game entity. I can do some minor item interactions, but those are honestly not too difficult at all. I don't know how to do custom world-gen beyond ores, such as structures or biomes. And I definitely don't know how to do any visual fluff. Other than basic modelling and textures, I'm kind of a mess. I have never touched OpenGL-like code in my life, and just to fix the custom item rendering in GUIs took me a long weekend of twiddling flags until I found the right ones to make it work. The particle code I shamelessly took from a modder tutorial. However, I know I can still make a great mod with only block and tile interactions. That's always been my favorite part of Minecraft, hence my focus towards learning those parts to begin with. However, once I get a solid foundation in, I do want to branch out and attempt to learn some of the other bits and pieces as well. That's just much further in the future.
Looking at the design of Femtocraft, I like some of the things I see, but honestly there's a good bit there that's definitely not what I initially had in mind. The pervasiveness of the assembler/dissassembler, when combined with the fiddly-ness of the encoder, is a major issue right now that I'm looking to fix. In fact, I'm trying to figure out industry in general for Femtocraft, since up until Nano all you ever touch is encoder recipes and the assembler. Even then, you just occasionally pump a few items into one-way devices like the horologe or enmesher.
I definitely want to add a few more items that are used more actively than the horologe or enmesher, that take away the complete reliance on the encoder/reconstructor, saving it instead for finishing big items/blocks.
Power generation is definitely heading the direction I want it to take, which is emphasizing unique methods that aren't meant to be directly comparable to existing kinds. The Fission reactor setup, though still needing a bit of tweaking, is around the correct level of complexity, I feel. I bug fixed the Fusion reactor, so it now forms plasma circuits with conduits and plasma flows flow through it. However, I have still no idea how I'm going to get some complexity with the system as a whole, despite having designed a cool system. I just don't know how to run it.
Which brings me to my next point. I am an ok designer. Not a great one, but I like to think not a bad one. Right now, with the stress of school and other things, I havn't had a great idea in weeks. I would say months, but I got the idea of the Starforge recently and I think that would be a great late-game crafting station combination to have fun with.
The whole 'I would like to redesign the industry' is exactly that. It's something I want to do, because I know the current setup won't cut it in the long run. And the sooner I do it, the sooner there's a solid foundation to extend off of. And that's what I'm good at designing for. I mean, case in point, I'm working on a mod which is building off the solid foundation of Minecraft. If I can get a solid foundation for myself, I know I can envision lots of cool things for it.
I just can't think of any ideas for it. I can think of some ways to get started into Femtocraft, and if you follow the link above you can probably find it there, but the problem is I kind of designed myself into a hole that I now need to dig my way out of. With the ease of decomposing and recomposing items, especially with the item/block finishing tie-in with assembler recipes going through the recomposer, there's really no machine in the femto tier that can't just be explained away with the decom/recomp/encoder trio. When you can manipulate particles, it's kind of like, what's the purpose of these other machines then? What can they do that those particle manipulators can't do? That's where the horologe and enmesher sneak by, with their tie-ins to the fabric underlying reality (and thus particles), but even that's somewhat of a stretch. So obviously, something needs to change.
Next Step Changes
Here's the problem. If I make the dissassembler/reassembler much harder to utilize, then the EE-ness of the mod becomes harder yet. And it's already pretty damn hard. In one direction. Dissassembling was intentionally made easy. After all, it's easier to break things apart than put them back together. Hammer vs. glue, Wrecking ball vs. crane,....Fission vs. Fusion.... The problem comes where the dissassembler can be applied to almost anything, where as the assembler can only be applied to one item at a time (via schematics.) When I've been doing designing, I have been thinking about different portions of the mod with specific preset player capabilities. I.E., when starting the mod, the player already has mid-game progress in another industry mod. When the player is in the nano tier, he should have a mob farm with a modest assortment of mods. When in the Femto tier, he should be able to brave the Nether with very little fear, and have a fully functioning mob farm including Nether mobs. When I was considering the decomposition/recomposition aspect of Femtocraft, I was envisioning a fully-functional AE system with quantum schematics for all Femtocraft decomposition items. That would mean 6 Femto Reassemblers and 15 Nano Reassemblers, at minimum. That would enable the player to make any micro molecule out of femto particles, with no cap on schematic usage. If they wanted faster, they could use it all as femto reassemblers, etc. Same with the old logistics pipes system, where a specific autocrafting table had to be set up with each recipe, so then would a micro reassembler be needed for each actual item to be made, that could be recomposed out of micro molecules. The AE crafting system could then takeover from there, as it was now working in the purview of regular crafting and not assembler schematics.
The problem with this view is that the system is so damn complicated, fiddly, and usage limited (via schematics), that this has kind of become the ONLY way to use the system. Other than a few simple micro-tier schematics, very few people other than the very dedicated or desperate minecrafter would dare venture into the nano, or goodness, the femto tier, and expect to do a full item-transmutation by hand. And I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, I've done what I set out to do, which is take the EE2 system and make it harder to use. Now I'm thinking I've made it too hard. And at this point, if that's the case, then a good majority of Femtocraft is tied into a system designed to support a mechanic that in all likelihood won't be used.
I've hit the point that I believe EE2 hit, which is the problem between usability and applicability. If it's extremely usable, but not applicable, then it'll just get ignored. If it's too usable and too applicable, like EE2, then it'll just overwhelm everything. This mechanic will always be applicable. I think that right now it's completely unusable except in the 'perfect' circumstance.
This is also completely ignoring the large mass requirement of schematics, with the only current way to produce mass being decomposing items. That's a different thread yet.
So, what I envisioned Femtocraft being. I wanted it to be that mod that you could log in and look around, and think you were in alien base, or for the trekkies amongst you, a borg cube. Something that would be how like Frankenstein's Laboratory is to the Renaissance period of technology, as to modern day technology, (which is the vast majority of Minecraft tech mods.)
I wanted big pulsing cables and lighting and random beeping noises, dangerous side effects and flashy tech. I wanted something that, you show your friend, and the first thing out of his mouth is "Whoah", and the second is "How do I make this?"
As to what I envisioned, I think I'm close. I love the look of the machines, especially the multiblocks. Some could maybe do with a once-over from a better artist, but for the most part I love the aesthetic. The cabling, though it took forever to make in code and was my first experiment in 3D Rendering in minecraft, is honestly far too bright. I was envisoning something more like the IC2 heavy cabling, with heavy-duty protection but you could see streaks of light leak out of viewing ports. The 'power particle' though is nice.
The power multiblocks are awesome, and that's honestly a direction I want to go more into. I want to make more things into multiblocks, because who doens't love multiblocks? They look awesome, they're fun to make, and they're visually impressive. When I'm redesigning the industry, I'm probably going to use a few multiblock structures as well.
As I've said before, I do have ideas for things to build off of Femtocraft. The main problem is getting Femtocraft core to a state where I feel it is good enough to deserve being built off of.
I have a mob-farm-like system slowly being designed, a block harvester in mind, and a player upgrade system being thought of as well.
I recently completed a spatial relocation framework for moving blocks and tile entities in the world, and I want to expand and stabilize that system for greater use. Beyond just simple applications like swapping two blocks, or teleporting/carrying specific ones. Imagine a piston that can push tile entities. Or transposing a selection of blocks at a time.
For more ideas, look in the design docs. They'll probably be the only thing I'll be touching for awhile, until I come up with something concrete.
So...that was my last hour on my last night before classes really slam home. This was as much for me as for you guys. I know I have high expectations for myself. I don't want to disappoint you guys. I don't want to disappoint myself, either! When I set out I envisioned this as becoming one of the core mods of major modpacks. Filling the role of a late-game system, where the game is less about getting a firm foundation and more about just having fun and letting your creativity loose.
I can feel how close it is to that. It makes it all the more frustrating when I know it isn't, yet. And it becomes extremely frustrating when I know how much I have yet to do and how little time I will have.